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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Science Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Attracting and Retaining Students to Complete 2- and 4-year Undergraduate Degrees in STEM


Under the auspices of the Board on Science Education (in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering, the Teacher Advisory Council, the Board on Life Sciences, and the Board on Higher Education and Workforce), the Committee on Attracting and Retaining Students to Complete 2- and 4-year Undergraduate Degrees in STEM* will conduct a comprehensive study to understand the barriers facing two- and four-year undergraduates who intend to major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and opportunities for overcoming these barriers.

More specifically, the committee will survey the literature and gather information to address such questions as:

  1. What research and data are currently available to identify barriers to, and opportunities for, completion of two and four-year degrees in STEM generally and in the different STEM disciplines? What is the quality of the available research and data?
  2. What do the available research and data tell us about barriers that discourage completion and opportunities that encourage completion of STEM majors? How do the barriers and opportunities vary for students of different races and genders and across different STEM disciplines and sub-disciplines?
  3. How are these barriers and opportunities unique for STEM majors? For example, how do student perceptions of course requirements and career opportunities in the various STEM majors versus other majors influence student decisions to enter or leave various STEM disciplines? How do these perceptions vary among students of different genders and races?
  4. What policies are two- and four-year institutions implementing to attract and retain students in STEM majors, including policies targeted toward all students, toward underrepresented groups, and toward majors in the different STEM disciplines? What evidence is available about the effectiveness of these policies, and what is the quality of this evidence? How well aligned are these policies with the available research evidence about barriers and opportunities?
  5. What future research and data collection --both at the level of individual higher education institutions and nationally are needed to enhance our understanding of how to support student completion of two and four-year STEM degrees?

The committee will prepare a report that will include conclusions based on the evidence and provide research-based guidance to inform policies and programs that aim to attract and retain students to complete Associate's and Bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines.

*Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Committee Membership

Committee Roster
Committee Biosketches


September 11-12, 2013
Meeting 1

AAAS Building
Revelle and Board Rooms
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC
November 12-13, 2013
Meeting 2

National Academy of Sciences Building
Room 120
2101 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC
January 21-22, 2014
Meeting 3
Beckman Center
100 Academy Way
Irvine, CA 92617
Speaker Bios
The Beckman Center

May 19-20, 2014
Meeting 4
Beckman Center
100 Academy Way
Irvine, CA 92617
Meeting was closed in it's entirety.

Background Materials
PowerPoint Presentations
Commissioned Papers

Michael Feder, Study Director
Kelly Arrington, Senior Program Assistant

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